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Thames Valley East


CHRISTMAS SPECIAL including Where to meet Father Christmas Festive Days Out Gift Guides RECRUITING NOW

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Issue 99 November/December 2018

2 • Maidenhead • Windsor • Marlow • Ascot • Slough • Egham

In this issue... 3-6 News & Information


7 Education News 8 Supporting your child with Friendship Issues 10 Play or Structured Learning in the Early Years? 11 Equipping our Children for a Digital Future 12 How to Sleep Better CHRISTMAS 13 Festive Cooking 14-15 Festive days out 16-17 Where to find Father Christmas 18 Christmas Shows 19 Elf on the Shelf Ideas 20 This Year’s Must-Have Christmas Toy Guide 21 Families’ Book Club

22-26 WHAT’S ON

27 COMPETITIONS PARENTING 28 Parenting Dramas – Managing Mornings 29 Building Works and Kids

...endless ideas for families of young children in Maidenhead • Windsor • Marlow • Ascot • Slough • Egham

........From the Editors........

We’re excited to be coming up to that time of year again; Christmas! It can be a busy time for families, so we hope our guides on Festive Days Out on pages 14-15, Where to Find Father Christmas on pages 16-17 and Christmas Shows on page 18, help you organise and enjoy your time with the kids. Also there is a chance to win tickets to Norden Farm’s festive performance, The Fir Tree. Check out this and our other competitions on page 27. Have a great Christmas and catch you all again at the beginning of 2019.

Beat Head Lice and Nits with the Bug Buster Kit If your children have had head lice before, then you may have been put off using expensive neuro-toxic pesticides on their heads. Bug Busting is a head louse detection and eradication method, which works by combining specially designed bevel-edged combs with your own family shampoo and conditioner. The Bug Busting method detects & clears lice completely without special treatments, removes lice systematically, breaking the life-cycle in four

sessions spaced over two weeks and eliminates unsightly eggshells comfortably. The Bug Buster Kit is NHS approved and safe for babies, children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and those with allergies. It costs £6.40 plus P&P but is reusable – only one kit is required per family To order a kit or for further information and advice, visit Community Hygiene Concern (CHC) at or call 01908 561928.

30-31 SHE MEANS BUSINESS E: editors: Anna Collins and Rachel Bailey circulation: 19,500 next issue: Jan/Feb 2018 due out: January 2, featuring: Health & children’s parties!

How high can your child fly

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Families Thames Valley East • 3

News & Info Talking to Young Children about War this Remembrance Day Remembrance Day this year will be on Sunday 11 November and will be especially significant as it will mark 100 years since the original agreement to end fighting during the First World War in 1918, also known as Armistice Day.

produced a short animation, simply titled ‘Poppies’ to help convey the notion of remembrance in a way that resonates with a young audience.

Accordingly, you can expect that there will be a great deal of media coverage given to this significant commemoration and your child may be prompted to ask you questions.

It is a really beautiful piece to watch and would be a great way to introduce any discussion of Remembrance Day. The 2 minute film follows a bunny who starts off playing in a meadow, which then becomes a WW1 battlefield.

Discussing war with children can be quite difficult. Recognising this, CBeebies has

The film can be viewed on the CBeebies website at

Jump In launches schools voucher scheme Open to all schools and nurseries in and around Slough, the scheme entitles bouncers to collect a voucher to be handed in at their school or nursery. Schools can use the value of the voucher towards a group jump and once 240 vouchers have been collected, 10 children could have a free session. Regional Manager Rob Borg says: “We believe giving children experiences outside the classroom is important in addition to everything they learn within school. We often see in the national media how school trips are under threat due to funding constraints and schools

4 • Maidenhead • Windsor • Marlow • Ascot • Slough • Egham

need a minimum number of parents to pay to make them viable. Trampolining has many fantastic benefits. We’re delighted to be launching our school scheme and hope to see lots of pupils remembering to pick up their vouchers when they come along for a bounce!” To take part, ask reception staff for a voucher and hand it in at school. One voucher will be issued to anyone aged 18 or under booked on to a bounce session. Only the birthday girl or boy will be able to collect a voucher when a party is booked. Schools must register by emailing

News & Info A Daily Mile Improves Children’s Health An initiative to get schoolchildren to walk or run a mile every day leads to significant improvements in their health, according to a study. The Daily Mile scheme was originally the brainchild of a Scottish head teacher who started it in 2012. Researchers at Stirling University compared the health of children at a primary school taking part in the scheme with those at a school that wasn’t participating. The children wore accelerometers which recorded how much moderate to vigorous

Odd Socks Day for Anti-Bullying Week Anti-Bullying Week runs from 12 to 16 November 2018 and the theme this year is choosing respect over bullying. The aim of the week is to support schools to help children understand: • The definition of respect • That bullying is a behavioural choice • That we can respectfully disagree with each other i.e. we don’t have to be best friends or always agree

with each other but we do have to show each other respect • That we all need to choose to respect each other, both face to face and online. Students are being encouraged to wear odd socks to school on Monday 12 November to show their support and raise money for a good cause.

physical activity (MVPA) they were undertaking every day, and for how long they were sedentary. Children who were doing the Daily Mile were significantly healthier than those who were not. According to the Daily Mile Foundation, more than 3,600 schools worldwide have introduced the initiative, including about 1,200 in England, 770 in Scotland, 210 in Wales, 85 in Northern Ireland and more than 100 in the Republic of Ireland. More info at and

To get involved, visit




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An Exceptional Drama training programme for young actors: Monday Creative Drama 4.15-5.15pm (ages 6-8 years) Tuesday Audition Skills 5.15-7.15pm (ages 10-15 years) Thursday Little Actors 4.30-5.15pm (ages 4-5 years) Little Actors 5.15-6.15pm (ages 6-8 years) Speech and Drama for Performance (ages 9-11+ years) Speech and Drama for Performance (ages 11-14+ years) Friday Little Professionals Acting Through Song 4.30-5.15pm (ages 6-8 years) Young Professionals Acting Through Song 5.15-6.15pm (ages 8-12 years) Creative Drama 6.15-7.45pm (ages 13 years)

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Email: • Tel: 01628 788058

Families Thames Valley East • 5

News & Info

. . . t o p S w e i Re v Anna Collins reviews Cohesive Living: Vision and Clarity Workshop I'm so glad I found the time to attend Sarah’s Vision and Clarity workshop. Let's face it finding 'me time' has not been easy since having my 2 little boys, so getting along to this event was just what I needed. Through Cohesive Living, Sarah Swain has combined two of her great passions; life coaching and interior design. In interior design you often use mood boards to show a future view and that informs the decisions you need to make along the way. Sarah has applied this to life coaching and helps people

develop a Vision Board from magazine cuttings to represent their lives and goals. Four of us attended the event, which was held at The Ferry in Cookham. Sarah made us feel at ease from the beginning and created a space where we could focus on ourselves only and not be worried if we found it emotional. The group bonded really well; it's amazing what you can learn being in a room for a day with a group of strangers! The process of pulling the boards together

was incredibly empowering and we all walked away with more focus and a personal vision of what we want to be, do and have in our lives!

Maidenhead Thicket celebrates National Tree Week (24 Nov – 2 Dec)

To book your workshop, visit or contact tel: 07799 391623

Maidenhead Thicket is a wooded area of big, ancient trees and until last year there was also a redundant larch plantation – a dense, dark area where little wildlife lived. The plantation was removed to improve biodiversity and this year Maidenhead and Cookham Common rangers are re-planting half the cleared area with native British trees. This new generation of oak, hornbeam, disease-resistant elm and others will allow much more wildlife to thrive, hopefully increasing populations of insects such as the stag beetle and butterflies. Maidenhead and Cookham Common rangers are looking for tree-lovers to sponsor a sapling at £15 per tree. They are also inviting everyone to come and help settle the saplings into their new home for a tree-planting day on Saturday 24 November, at the start of National Tree Week. Donate online at

We are a super-friendly ofsted registered day nursery providing high quality childcare for babies from three-months-old to children up to the age of five set within the bright, modern surroundings of Windsor leisure centre.

Open for 51 weeks a year! Accepts 30 hours funding to find out more about our excellent childcare facility and meet our team: call: 01753 855543 • email: visit:

6 • Maidenhead • Windsor • Marlow • Ascot • Slough • Egham

Education News Home-work or own work!

Coworth Flexlands School welcomes new Head Everyone’s first day at a new school is memorable and that is the same whether you are a pupil, parent, staff member or Headteacher. Coworth Flexlands Prep School and Nursery welcomed new Headteacher, Miss Nicola Cowell in September. Miss Cowell who has been busy getting to know all the pupils, families and staff across the school, said: “It is a great privilege to be part of such a warm, nurturing and happy community here at Coworth Flexlands School and I am delighted to be stepping into this new role. We all have such an exciting year ahead of us! The children have arrived invigorated after their summer breaks ready to dive into a wonderfully broad and enriching curriculum which we are sure will engage and inspire their young minds. We welcome you to attend our upcoming Open Mornings for a chance to see our fantastic school in action.” Coworth Flexlands is an independent prep school for girls aged 3-11 and boys 3-7 years. Open days take place on Wednesday November 7 and Friday 30 at 9.15am. For more information please contact the school on 01276 855707

Forest School opens in Gerrards Cross Under the Canopy Forest School led by Dr Jenny Collar (a Biologist and former teacher), aims to fulfill a growing need for time spent outdoors and away from technology in order to encourage learning and creativity for all. Outdoor opportunities facilitate the development of skills such as self-awareness and self-esteem, creativity, communication and empathy and practical skills such as fine and gross motor skills. The Forest School experience offers many varied activities to support the development of these skills including: building, lighting and cooking on a fire, constructing dens, creating insect and animal shelters and many more. For more information on sessions, parties and events, visit or contact

Upton House sports teacher awarded 5 medals at the European and World Dragon Boat championships Trisha Corless, Head of Sport at Upton House School competed in the Club Crew World Championships in Szeged, Hungary where over 6000 competitors took part. Miss Corless and her team from the “Wraysbury Dragons” bagged a well-deserved bronze medal in the closely fought 200m final. Miss Corless also competed for the GB Dragon boat team for the European Nations Championships in Bradenburg, Germany. The team picked up 3 Silver medals and a Bronze. Trisha who has previously rowed for Great Britain coaches rowing as well as other sports to pupils at Upton House. She says: “It’s great to share the value of team spirit and purposeful training with the children. We encourage them to find a love in sport, pursue it and always aspire to be the very best they can be.” Rhian Thornton, Headmistress added: “Sport is so important for the physical and mental health in children. The skills pupils learn such as team play, determination and perseverance are transferable across all areas of the curriculum and highly valued at Upton House.” Upton House School in Windsor is for children aged 2-11 and was recently granted the Youth Sports Trust Gold award for quality and provision of sporting experiences for children.

Mrs Rhian Thornton, Headmistress from Upton House School, Windsor offers some helpful tips for parents. The part homework plays in school and family life has always been a real concern for me. As a Mum of three children and Headmistress at a busy independent school, I see the challenges. Our children are busy! They have a rich and full school day with endless interests and activities inside and outside school. How do we at the end of such a full day, fit in Maths, English, Science, spelling, reading, dinner, and a sensible bedtime routine. The answer is we cannot or we can, but not, I would suggest without some element of anxiety and tension. Homework should reinforce the topic covered in class and should not involve the parent teaching new concepts. It should be short and achievable. Reading is crucial to progress and development in every subject and the ability to hold intelligent conversations with peers or teachers. Whether it is a range of literature or current affairs at the appropriate age level, daily reading is essential. Our top tips for homework at Upton House School are: • Reading; Spelling; Maths come first. • Tasks should be short and purposeful. • Open ended tasks, such as making a globe, must be kept for longer holidays! • Homework can come in many forms. Have fun with it where you can. • If the homework is causing distress – stop! • Good communication with school is essential. • Dinner, family time, bedtime and quality sleep are most important.

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Families Thames Valley East • 7

Life and relationships are not always easy and we learn our skills as children, watching the interactions of our parents and other adults in our lives. What we learn as children then sets our patterns of relating in adulthood.

Supporting your Child with Friendship Challenges

By Lianna Champ


for them. Gently encouraging your child to talk about their feelings can help to identify areas of conflict, disagreement or unfairness which may have led to the fall out. Ask what they think went wrong. Do they think they could have reacted differently? Do they feel that they did nothing wrong? When friends fall out, it doesn’t necessarily mean any of the children in the mix did anything wrong. Fall outs just happen and they can happen all the time! Girls especially can change friends quickly, moving from one to another in succession. There is an important lesson here too - that friendships grow and change and sometimes come to an end. Children are still developing and so must their friendships. As we grow up, it is healthy that our friendship groups grow and

alling out with friends is normal during childhood and it is through struggling with friendship challenges that our children learn about themselves, relationships and how best to interact with others. Through experience, children also learn how to set boundaries - what they will or will not accept in a friendship. We cannot make these decisions for our children but we can guide them gently and encourage them to use their instinct, intuition and intellect. The most important thing we can do when our children are struggling with friendship issues is to listen. t can feel Falling out with their friends like the worse thing in the world. Saying anything negative about their friends at this point will only cause your child to withdraw and can create further emotional confusion




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diversify. Our needs change and different people provide different things. Learning how to be a friend is like learning anything else. Sharing your own stories of your own friendship experiences can be helpful, showing your children that friendships can hit a rocky patch which has to be worked through. Help your children to understand the importance of sharing, taking someone else’s feelings into account and listening to each other. It’s important that children learn about allowing their friends the privilege of sharing their feelings without being judged. Teach your children that their friends should also allow them this privilege too. We can teach our children to decide whether a friendship is worth persevering with or whether it’s best to just walk away. Don’t be afraid to talk about the differences between healthy and toxic relationships. It’s important to help children understand that there are different kinds of friends too – best, great, good and casual friends - and that new people are constantly coming into our lives. As we navigate life we can’t expect to get everything we need from one friendship, which is why we need quite a few to fulfil our needs. Children have a tendency to think about things over and over again. Gently reflect back to them using clear language how they are feeling and what happened. Try a bit of role play around a friendship challenge which can help your child see what is happening more objectively. If you think your child’s behaviour was the catalyst for a fall out, role play can help them learn how to be a

better friend in the future. It can also help them see more clearly whether they were at fault. Always take an interest in your child’s friendships and if you sense something out of the ordinary, be there as a buffer. But avoid taking sides, actively interfering or taking decisions for your child about their friendships. Working through their experiences is an extremely important part of growing up and a learning curve for adulthood and taking this away from them robs them of the chance to learn valuable life lessons. Equally, do not make them feel like victim in a relationship as this can prevent them from taking responsibility in relationships later in life. Encouraging new activities and providing arenas for new friendships can give your child confidence in their ability to make new friends and be a good friend. Studies show that children who have healthy relationships with the adults in their lives are more likely to make sound decisions about friendship, because they understand things like empathy and mutual respect, and they have better problem-solving skills. So above all, nurture your own relationship with your children and others in your family.

Lianna Champ has over 40 years’ experience in bereavement and grief recovery. Her new book How to Grieve Like a Champ is out now priced £9.99. More information at

Out of school hours: 01344 844592 • E:

8 • Maidenhead • Windsor • Marlow • Ascot • Slough • Egham

Open Events Dates for Autumn 2018 Open Events are a fantastic way to see the school in action, meet our Headteacher, Joanna Leech, and all our staff. For girls from 3-11 years. Open Events Saturday 24th November 2018 10.00am – 12.00pm Wednesday 28th November 2018 6.00pm – 7.30pm

To book your place call 01628 624918 Or email


Email: • Tel: 01628 788058

Families Thames Valley East • 9


Play or Structured Learning in the Early Years? By Maxine Henderson


n England, the current Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum stipulates a 50/50 balance between child-centred, play-based learning and adult-led learning. Over the years there have been individuals who question the system and look to introduce new ideas. For example Liz Truss, a past Education and Childcare Minister, championed the introduction of a French-style ‘structured learning’ approach, with a

graduate-led workforce responsible for larger groups of children and a reduced child-to-carer ratio. Whilst the benefits of a more highly qualified workforce are indisputable, there are other considerations. If teachers are responsible for larger groups then opportunities for vital play-based learning are reduced. Whilst the ‘structured learning’ model is hailed for its effectiveness in socialising children, teaching them

10 • Maidenhead • Windsor • Marlow • Ascot • Slough • Egham

manners and creating a calm, organised atmosphere, it is not an environment in which young children learn best. It definitely doesn’t encourage them to be inquisitive, self-motivated learners. Children need to practise negotiating with each other and experience problem solving situations, without the direct supervision of an adult. If they are unable to practise these skills in free play, they become too reliant on adults to both intervene for them in social situations and to motivate and inspire them to learn. A great example of the benefits of play-based learning happened in one of our nursery settings recently. I observed the children carrying large construction blocks, lengths of fabric, pegs and sticky tape out of the building and realised they were busy working together to construct a range of interestingly shaped homes in the garden, entirely from their own imaginations. Some children were making signs to indicate who lived where; others were adding connecting tunnels and others still were creating places for everyone to sit and a welcoming atmosphere. It wasn’t all smooth sailing. The children often disagreed about how to construct the dwellings and tempers flared when some children “borrowed” things from one den to improve their own, but the whole process was fascinating to observe. Our carers were on hand to support the children – making sure they were safe and allowing them to negotiate between themselves. When necessary, they offered suggestions to help the children make decisions, but they provided choices rather than answers. They also asked open questions throughout the process such as: How many pegs have you used? How is this staying up? What does your sign say? The learning that took place that afternoon was incredible – the children were self-motivated, interested in the task and invested in a positive outcome. In adult-led learning, we often meet resistance, as a child does not want to complete the task in the way that we expect. However, this leads to other teaching opportunities and is equally as important as play-based learning. The two work well in tandem, giving the children opportunities to develop

core skills, find their own strengths and become well-rounded individuals. Currently observations are made about a child’s development while they play, helping carers plan structured learning activities relevant to that child’s development. These observations include the individual interests, abilities and levels of assistance required by each child. This makes it possible to organise interesting, achievable but challenging adult-led activities for each child, taking account of their preferred learning style and developmental level. During the den-building activity, carers were able to identify which children: • Confidently led the action • Preferred to watch • Were interested in creating the tents and dens • Disappeared when all the building and mending was done • Wanted to play in the dens when they were completed, delegating characters to each other and adding furniture to create narratives for their games. A mixture of adult-led and play-based learning is important for the development of every child. The individual child needs to learn structure and rules and participate as part of a group but they also need time to explore their own interests, likes and dislikes and see where they fit into the whole. When considering the introduction of new ways of learning for children, it’s important to consider the impact this can have on the individual development of a child, as well as the changes that will need to be made to group learning. For example, increasing the number of children each worker has in their care makes it more difficult for detailed observations to be made about each child and to organise adult-led activities which are appropriate for both the development of individual children and the group. Inevitably, this forces settings to move to a classroom-style environment in which, sadly, children lose vital free-play learning and development opportunities. Maxine Henderson is a Childcare Expert at Tinies Childcare, a leading childcare specialist with over 30 years experience helping families, nurseries and other childcare settings find the right childcare professionals to suit their needs. For more information, visit

Equipping our Children for a Digital Future By Casey Farquharson Analysts Gartner have predicted that £19bn will be spent globally on educational technology by 2019. But are we sure that this will make our children better prepared to succeed in the future? Will they possess the necessary skills to thrive in an increasingly digitalised world?


oding is a key tech skill which can help prepare our children for the future. Yet, according to an article in The Guardian, over 67% of primary and secondary school teachers believe they cannot teach coding because of a lack of 'skills and teaching tools.’ Many schools simply don't have personnel with the required skills and understanding to teach pupils how to code. There is an urgent need for more investment in the education sector to train teachers to code; to attract more individuals to learn and teach coding; and to equip schools, both secondary and primary, with the necessary hardware. However, it isn’t all about technology. Yes, we want our children to have good tech and digital skills, but character, creativity, and social skills are also vital. No matter how digitalised the world becomes, these three attributes of success cannot be compromised. The components of character are courage, determination, the audacity to be different, focus, and the ability to ask questions and make one’s own decisions. With creativity comes problem solving skills, innovation, critical thinking, and the ability to think outside the box. Rapport and relationship building, the ability to effectively express oneself both orally and in writing, confidence and collaboration are key components of social skills. Plying our children with tablets and other forms of tech hardware is most definitely not a sure-proof way to ensure they have these attributes. The point here is not that tablets are bad or not useful, but that they

should never be utilised as a be-all and end-all. Technology should not be a foundation of learning, but rather an enabler and a catalyst. There are seven learning styles* that need to be understood and embraced if our primary-age children are to get the most from their technology learning experiences: Aural Listeners – individuals that respond primarily to sound. Technology can be utilized to effectively engage with such individuals via the use of podcasts and audio teaching tools. Logical learners – individuals with logical and organized minds. Mind mapping technology can be effectively utilized to improve their learning experience.

Verbal listeners – individuals who absorb information more effectively via verbal instruction. Innovative technology such as Siri, Cortana and Ok Google can be utilized to teach such individuals. Visual learners – individuals that learn more effectively with pictures and imagery. Tablets and virtual reality technology can be utilized to optimize their learning experience. It’s clear from the above that technology has the potential to be an effective enabler of specific and overall learning experiences. However, the key to its sustained effectiveness when it comes to education lies in technology being utilised in a supportive capacity, as against a leading one. If we want our children to succeed in the future, then we must protect their emotional and psychological wellbeing. It is time to take responsibility for educating children,

not only on the distinct dangers of the digital world but also on the importance of the true foundations of positive self-esteem. In order for our children to prosper in the future it is absolutely vital that we improve and preserve their emotional well-being and appropriate technology training and learning scenarios can play a part in that education. *Source:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Casey Farquharson is the founder of IDEAS Bus, an interactive educational platform (on wheels!) designed to help educators discover the latest cutting-edge learning technology and students to get hands on coding, tech and digital media experience. More info at

Physical learners – individuals who respond to words that incite feeling and activity. They like to understand what it feels like to go through the motions of what they are learning. Virtual reality technology can be utilized to optimize their learning experience. Social learners – Individuals that respond to teachers who are inquisitive and ask what they are thinking and feeling about key topics and concepts. Search engines such as Google, Google assistant and Siri can be utilised to maximise their learning experience. Solitary listeners – individuals that are more comfortable sorting out problems on their own. Videos, online tutorials and audio learning can be utilized to optimize their learning experience.

Email: • Tel: 01628 788058

Families Thames Valley East • 11

How to Sleep Better By Dr. Neil Stanley As we approach the run up to the busiest and most stressful time of the year, any sleep difficulties you generally experience can be heightened.


f you are a sleep deprived parent, it’s most likely because you have a child who is not sleeping well. Of course, there are things that you can do to help your child get a better night’s sleep, which will hopefully result in improved sleep for you, but it is also important that parents seek to improve their own sleep. The key to a well slept household is to put in place whatever sleep arrangements are right for you, your partner and your children - not what your friends, neighbours, mother-in-law, sleep experts or self-help parenting books tell you. Firstly, take control of the situation and agree the ‘sleep rules’ that work for you, your partner and child. How will you react to your child crying in the night or wanting to get into bed with you? How will you handle their resistance to going to sleep at a set bed-time? What is the right bed time? Once agreed, you need to stick to these rules and, if they are working, don’t change them. How do you know whether it’s working? Simply, if your child is happy, healthy and well behaved and you and your partner feel awake, alert and focused during the day, don’t worry. If any of you are sleepy, moody and prone to temper tantrums, then your sleeping habits need improvement. Here are some of my tips on how parents can sleep better:

Avoid an overloaded schedule If your child does not have the time they need to sleep, then it’s likely you won’t either. Identify and prioritise activities that allow for relaxation and sufficient sleep time for yourselves and your children. Take a nap, don’t resort to stimulants If you feel sleepy during the day, your body wants sleep - it does not

12 • Maidenhead • Windsor • Marlow • Ascot • Slough • Egham

want to be stimulated by caffeine or anything else! A 20 minute power nap will boost your mental performance and that improvement will last for a few hours. Napping for more than 20 minutes means that you risk waking in the deepest stage of sleep and will feel worse when you wake than you did before your nap. Rationalise sleeping arrangements If children feel scared, insecure or lonely, they generally want to be comforted and reassured by a parent. The most natural thing in the world if they are sleeping in a separate room is to come to into your room and perhaps get into the

bed. The way you deal with this is down to you, but if your child is going to sleep with a parent, it would probably be far easier for you or your partner to relocate to the child’s room or another bedroom, if available. Alternate night time parenting Rather than sharing the parenting duties every night, which just means that you are both disturbed, you can alternate duties so one partner gets a good night sleep every other night. It is even better, if you have the space, to have a ‘sleep’ bedroom and a ‘parent’ room, so your children genuinely do disturb only one of you every night. Get up and do something relaxing If you are disturbed during the night and find it hard to go back to sleep, it is best to get up and do something relaxing, only going to bed again when you feel sleepy. Lying in bed feeling frustrated that you are not sleeping is counter-productive. Don’t get uptight about not sleeping The reality is that you will survive a bad night’s sleep and cope okay the next day. Getting over anxious about not sleeping will only compound the problem. Remember that your children will not always need you during the night – all these things shall eventually pass! Outdoor exercise works Getting exercise outside during the day is an ideal way to improve both your physical and mental health and aiding good sleep. You don’t have to jog or go to the gym just a walk in the park will be beneficial. Dr Neil Stanley is an independent sleep expert and the author of How to Sleep Well: The Science of Sleeping Smarter, Living Better and Being Productive (Capstone, July 2018). For more information, visit

. . . e p i c e R

Gingerbread Christmas Tree Ingredients: for 1 tree

• 350g plain flour • 2 teaspoons ground ginger • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda • 100g butter, cold and diced • 175g light muscovado sugar • 1 egg • 4 tablespoons golden syrup • 250g royal icing • sweets • star cutters in 5-6 different sizes

Instructions 1. Preheat the oven to 190oC/gas 5. 2. Rub in the flour, ginger, bicarbonate of soda with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, stir to mix 3. Mix the egg and golden syrup together, stir into the dry ingredients until it forms a dough. Use your hands to bring it all together. 4. Sprinkle a little flour onto a clean work surface and knead the gingerbread dough until it is smooth, adding a little more flour if needed. 5. Split the dough into two balls and roll out one ball of the dough until it is the thickness of a pencil, approximately 5 mm. 6. Cut out 2 of each star shape. Transfer to a lined baking tray. 7. Ask an adult to bake the biscuits in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until they are golden brown. Ask an adult to remove them and let them cool on the tray for 15 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool fully. 8. When the biscuits are cold mix up the royal icing, following the instructions on the packet, in an electric mixer for 5-10 minutes until it is smooth, glossy and stands in stiff peaks. If it is too runny add a little more icing sugar as it won’t hold the gingerbread tree together properly. 9. Use a flat plate, or a placemat covered with tinfoil, as a base for your stacking tree. Place a tablespoon of icing onto the bottom, start with the biggest star and place this on the icing, pressing down gently until it is flat. This will be the bottom of the tree.

10. Place a teaspoonful of icing in the centre of the big star and take the other gingerbread star the same size and place it on top of this star, moving it slightly off centre so you can see the points of the bottom star. Carry on with the next biggest gingerbread stars going down in size until you have used up all but the last, smallest star. Place this on the top of the stack so it stands up, you may have to hold in place for a few minutes. Leave the tree for 1-2 hours until the icing has set. Cover the remaining icing with two layers of cling film to ensure it doesn’t dry out. 11. Place small dollops of icing on the points of the stars and stick a smartie or other sweetie onto each point.

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Families Thames Valley East • 13

Festive Days Out Want to get out and about this Christmas? Here’s our pick of the best festive events happening in and around the local area A Very Royal Christmas at Hughenden This Christmas, Hughenden steps back in time to 1877 when Queen Victoria visited. Hughenden’s resident, the then Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, enjoyed a unique relationship with Queen Victoria and called her his Faery. For younger visitors who might otherwise be disappointed at the absence of a ‘real’ faery, there’ll be a trail of filled bell jars to follow from the car park hinting at an ethereal presence in the garden. Daily from 23 November to 2 January. Normal admission applies plus £8 to visit Father Christmas in his grotto, weekends from 8 December. Early booking advised.

Become Mother Christmas’ little helper at Cliveden This Christmas, Cliveden estate has transformed into Mother and Father Christmas' workshop grotto. Little ones will complete fun festive activities around the gardens to help make sure Christmas Day goes ahead without a hitch. Trails cost £5 per child and are free for accompanying adults (usual admission to the estate applies). The trail runs weekends in December and from Thursday 20 December to Sunday 23

December. For further details about events, opening times and admission prices, visit call 01628 605069 or email

Busy Buttons Crafty Christmas Busy Buttons Design Centre CIC has bags full of creativity happening in Windsor this Christmas. Busy Buttons will again design and make the lanterns for the Windsor Christmas Lights Switch on and Lantern Procession on 17 Nov. At the Design Centre, there will be workshops, demonstrations, displays as well as a free Living Advent Calendar event at 6:15pm on 9 Dec. Or, why not visit their Crafty Christmas Camp running from Monday 17 Dec to Friday 21. The camp will have your children partaking in the festive cheer enjoying designing, baking, learning and most of all getting creative! Don’t forget their ethical gift shop, 'make your own gift' sessions and the 'Drop and Shop' service with DBS cleared staff to help you get through both your gift list and your busy schedule this Christmas! For more information visit Busy Buttons Design Centre CIC, 8-9 Windsor Yards, Windsor SL4 1TF 07952 418 212

14 • Maidenhead • Windsor • Marlow • Ascot • Slough • Egham

Celebrate 10 years of Maidenhead’s Community Lantern Parade! The Carnival of the Animals Lantern Parade returns on Saturday 8 December featuring live music and entertainment, street food, a licenced bar and hot drinks! Organised by Norden Farm, you can get involved at one of their Lantern Making workshops, running throughout November and December. Create an animal inspired lantern by weaving and decorating willow. Their expert lantern makers will guide you through the process and you will have a lantern ready to illuminate at the parade. The public Lantern workshops are being held at Norden Farm and in Maidenhead Town Centre in the run up to the event. Workshops will take place every Saturday in Maidenhead Town Centre, from Saturday 17 November and will run from 10am to 4pm. The Norden Farm workshops will run every Sunday from

Christmas Hyde Park Winter Wonderland If you fancy popping up to London, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is open daily 10am – 10pm from 23 November to 6 January. Free entry with child tickets to attractions like Peter Pan On Ice, Backyard Cinema’s The Snowman Experience, Zippos Christmas Circus and more. Tickets from £5 with family deals from £20 and a dedicated family entrance. A brand new Santa Land features a 45m long Ice Slide and an Ice Trike Trail plus a FREE Santa’s Grotto!

Kew Gardens’ mesmerising trail illuminated by 1 million glimmering lights Sunday 18 November and will take place between 10.30am and 12.30pm and also 1.30pm to 3.30pm. Suitable for all the family. Workshops are £4 per person. To book, call the Box Office on 01628 788997

Christmas shopping season at Stowe From 12 November to 16 December, Stowe is opening up its historic parlour rooms to host a parade of local stallholders selling their traditional and handmade products. Browse the cosy rooms at the New Inn followed by a stroll to take in the magnificent views of the landscape gardens and a hot cuppa in the café. Take a festive walk around the grounds from 1 December with their new Landscape Advent Calendar and find all 24 ‘doors’ hidden in the landscape. There’ll also be carols in the courtyard on weekends throughout December.

Kew’s spectacular after-dark landscape will be transformed by a host of newly commissioned artworks of light and sound. Highlights include a Cathedral of Light, 300 glowing origami boats on Kew’s glistening lake and a show-stopping Palm House finale. Youngsters will delight in spotting Santa and his helpers performing along the trail, and White Peaks will once again become a festival fairground with a Victorian carousel and other rides for the little ones. As the winter trail comes to an end, visitors will be greeted by the scent of mulled wine, mince pies and other festive foods from a variety of enticing stalls at Victoria Plaza. Kew lights up from Thursday 22 November to Saturday 5 January 2019. For tickets visit

Waddesdon Christmas Fair No one does Christmas quite like Waddesdon. From 10 November to 16 December, the Christmas market will house more than 80 exhibitors in charming wooden chalets either side of the lawns in front of

the house and is a great place to pick up unique gifts, decorations and delicious street food. Decorations in the house are inspired by the splendour of the Venetian carnival and 18th century fancy dress. In the grounds there are interactive light displays, sound and 3D light projections plus children’s craft activities, as well as the winter wigwam with hearty hotpots, snacks and snuggly sheepskins to keep you warm. Christmas carnival runs until 2 January 2019. Early booking for the house is essential. £5 adult £2.50 child for National Trust members. Normal admission applies for non-members.

Windsor’s Reindeer Parade Looking set to be taking place on Saturday December 1 (although the date is still to be confirmed), the Reindeer parade in Windsor is perfect for getting into the Christmas spirit. Live reindeer will pull Father Christmas on a sleigh parading through the town centre with a marching band and costumed characters. Jingle all the way from the castle at 2pm through St Albans Street, then into Park Street, High Street, Peascod Street and finally into Windsor Yards. The parade will end near the toy department steps of Daniel department store where you can have your photo taken with Father Christmas on his sleigh. For Information on where to find Father Christmas go to pages 16 and 17 and for Christmas shows go to page 18. Plus don’t forget our What’s On guide on pages 22 - 26.

Christmas Spectacular at Odds Farm Park From the 1 to 24 December, take your Christmas Spectacular Pass through the Enchanted Forest, to start your magical journey to the North Pole. Meet the Elves and Father Christmas, head into the Elves’ Workshop to create your extraordinary take home gift and finally step into the Toy Shop to choose your Christmas Spectacular present! Combined with plenty of indoor and outdoor play, festive shows and more, plus lots of furry friends to meet - there’s so much fun for the whole family! Odds Farm Park is located just minutes from Junction 2 of the M40, near Beaconsfield. For more information call 01628 520188 or visit Book your Christmas Spectacular Pass online now to secure your preferred date and time.

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Families Thames Valley East • 15

glimpse of Santa in his Christmas grotto and enjoy a magical family day out in the new and exclusively designed Santa Land! Visit Santa’s Toy Factory fun house where Santa & his elves are making gifts ready for the big day! Don’t forget your souvenir picture to keep the memories alive. Daily from 23 November

Where to find Father Christmas Whilst some children will have started their Christmas lists months ago, now is the time to start searching out the man himself. Families shares our guide on where to visit him this year Eat with Father Christmas at Wyevale Garden Centre, Binfield, Hare Hatch, Twyford or Dedworth Road, Windsor. Call 0844 288 5063. Enjoy a delicious, breakfast or tea as the whole family meets Santa, children decorate a festive biscuit and then choose their very own present to take home. £10.95 per child November 17 until Christmas Eve

Pay a visit to Lapland UK Whitmoor Forest, Swinley Road, Winkfield Row, Ascot SL5 8BD. Personal invitations, a visit to the secret Elf Toy Factory, wander through a snowy woodland, ice skate around a giant Christmas tree, meet real reindeer and huskies and Father Christmas himself. Premium tickets from £49. November 17 to Sunday December 24

Meet Santa at Windsor on Ice at Alexandra Gardens, Barry Avenue, SL4 3HY. There is no need to book tickets as he walks around and meets and greets the children and sometimes poses on his chair for a picture with your little one(s). Donations to local charity - Swan Support. Email for special requests for Santa or groups wanting to see him. Saturday November 17 to Thursday January 6 Visit Santa’s grotto in Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Catch a

Witness Santa’s arrival at Iver Flowerland with real reindeer and Disney guests on November 25 11am. Visit Santa in his Grotto until 23 December £7.50 per child, including a gift, plus optional festive workshop £2.50. Alternatively, join ‘Breakfast with Santa’, which includes a Grotto experience afterwards (£12.50 per child); 9:00am and 11:00am on Saturdays, 10:00am on Sundays. From December 1 Limited spaces available. Breakfast also at Bourne End Flowerland Enjoy the Christmas Spectacular at Odds Farm Park, Wooburn Common, HP10 0LX 01628 520 188.

Take your Christmas Spectacular Pass through the Enchanted Forest, to start your magical

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16 • Maidenhead • Windsor • Marlow • Ascot • Slough • Egham

Christmas journey to the North Pole. Meet the Elves and Father Christmas, head into the Elves’ Workshop to create your extraordinary take home gift, finally going onto the Toy Shop to choose your Christmas Spectacular present. Plus there are the Christmas lambs to meet and plenty of fun to be had in the playbarn. Saturday December 1 to Monday 24 Visit the Christmas Bricktacular and Grotto at the Legoland Windsor Resort Winkfield Road, Windsor, SL4 4AY, 0871 2222 001 Find the elves, see snow dusted pine trees, Lego sparkle, exciting seasonal festivities, toy workshop and more. Discover a Christmas land with 20 rides and attractions... Father Christmas will be in his magical grotto. Weekends from December 1 and daily from December 15 to 23 Enjoy a Traditional Christmas at Chiltern Open Air Museum Gorelands Lane, Chalfont St Giles, HP8 4AB 01494 871117 Father Christmas will greet visitors as he sits by the fire in Haddenham Cottage. Children (and adults) are

invited to take part in Christmas crafts and activities. Folk musicians will perform a mixture of festive, traditional and modern folk music. December 1 and 2 Visit Father Christmas’s Grotto in South Hill Park Wilde Theatre, Ringmead, RG12 7PA 01344 484 123. Decorate your very own Christmas ornament with Father Christmas’s elves, before going in to see him for a personalised visit. Receive your very own present and some special Christmas magic created by LivelyWood Pictures. Guaranteed to leave you feeling warm and wonderful. Suitable for ages two to ten years old. Saturday December 5 to Christmas Eve Visit Santa’s Grotto at Black Park Country park, Black Park Road, Wexham, SL3 6DR, 0845 370 8090 Visit Santa in his magical grotto at Black Park and tell him your Christmas wishes. Will Santa have a gift for you?...only if you've been good! Book in advance. Santa has a gift for each child booked in, these are age relevant for babies,

toddlers (1 to 4 year olds) and 5 to 8 year olds and 9+ yrs. £5 per child, booking essential, pay & display charges apply. Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 December 10am - 4pm, Wednesday 12 1-5pm, Friday 14 and Saturday 15 10am-4pm and Friday 21st December 10am-4pm Father Christmas returns to Hughenden in his decorated grotto on weekends from 8 December. Normal admission applies, plus £8 to visit Father Christmas and receive a Christmas gift. The grotto is always popular so please book early on 0344 249 1895.

Enjoy family lunch with Santa at the Oakley Court Hotel, Windsor Road, Windsor, 01753 609988 A truly festive day with a delicious buffet, crackers and table novelties. A balloon artist will entertain every child and they can pay Santa a special visit to receive a gift. Three course buffet, crackers, table novelties, professional balloon artist and grotto. £44.95 (half price for under 10s). Sunday December 16 and 23.

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Join in the Christmas Racing at Ascot Racecourse, High Street, SL5 7JX 0870 727 1234 Take a ride at the fairground, experience Christmas tales live from the cosy confines of the bandstand and even meet Santa’s reindeer. Story-telling from Mrs Christmas, pony rides, huskies, a carol singing concert, festive cocktails, fine dining and free fairground rides. Children can attend and eat for free too at this family day. Saturday December 22

As Families went to press, some locations had not confirmed dates for visits from Santa. Maidenhead Bridge Rotary Club usually set up a free Santa’s Grotto in the Nicholson Centre first weekend of December Look out for Santa’s visit by helicopter to Stubbings Nursery in Maidenhead also usually beginning of December. See for updates.

Families Thames Valley East • 17

Christmas Shows Christmas is the perfect time to spend quality time with your family. Families has put together a roundup of shows in the local area, perfect for a family outing this festive season

Tuesday 20 November to Sunday 30 December The Fir Tree Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Altwood Road, Maidenhead SL6 4PF 01628 788997 Norden Farm’s Christmas show this year is The Fir Tree by Tove Jansson, from tales in Moominvalley. Featuring live puppetry and music, the show is an adventure set in the idyllic and peaceful Moominvalley. It is a gloriously unselfish take on Christmas.

Produced by special arrangement with Agency North Ltd and Moomin Characters Ltd. Suitable for all audiences from 3 years and upwards, tickets from £11.50. Pre Show Touch Tours for children with SEND and sensory impairments. Friday November 23 to Sunday January 6 Dick Whittington Theatre Royal Windsor, Thames Street, Windsor, SL4 1PS 01753 853 888 Celebrate 80 years of traditional Panto at the beautiful Edwardian theatre. Get ready for even more laughs than ever before. Anne Hegerty, The Governess from The Chase joins old favourites…Basil Brush is back, Mike Read and of course Kevin Cruise, Windsor’s calamitous comic returns along with resident dame Steven Blakeley. Tickets from £17. New family ticket available on selected shows.

18 • Maidenhead • Windsor • Marlow • Ascot • Slough • Egham

Saturday December 1 Aladdin Burnham Park Hall, Windsor Lane, Burnham, Buckinghamshire, SL1 7HR 01628 550380 Classic tale about the young street urchin and his genie pal. Tickets £5 to £9 Friday December 7 to Sunday 30 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Wycombe Swan, St Mary St, High Wycombe HP11 2XE 01494 514 444 The fairest pantomime of them all… It will be Strictly (Come Dancing) fun as Brendan Cole makes his pantomime debut in this year’s must-see pantomime spectacular Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Also starring Britain’s Got Talent finalist Mandy Muden as the Magical Mirror and pantomime favourite Jason Sutton as Nurse Nancy. The Swan promises comedy, sensational song and dance numbers, fabulous costumes and stunning scenery. Tickets from £12.50. Wednesday December 12 to Sunday 15 Sleeping Beauty Desborough Theatre, Park Street, Maidenhead, box office SL6 1RF Maidenhead Drama Guild presents The Sleeping Beauty. 7.30pm weekdays, noon and 4pm weekends. Tickets: £11 adults, £9 children, four for just £40 Saturday December 15 to Monday 24 December Beauty and the Beast The Curve, William Street, Slough, SL1 1XY The battle is on for

strong minded Beauty and loveable Dame Nellie. High energy, traditional panto packed with belly laughing jokes, well-known hit pop songs, slapstick comedy and plenty of audience participation! Starring a professional adult company. 0333 666 3366 Saturday December 22 until Sunday December 30 Cinderella The Pearce Suite Theatre, Magnet Leisure Centre, Maidenhead, SL6 8AW The clock is ticking, you shall go to the ball as Maidenhead Pantomime returns to the Magnet with the Nation’s favourite magical panto, Cinderella. The classic rags to riches tale will be performed this December, featuring enchanting animated scenery, popular songs and plenty of silliness. Cinderella’s famous Ugly Sisters, Katiya and Cerise can’t wait to make you feel very welcome. Panto Producer, Ruth Senior said; “I am extremely excited to be working with the Magnet to produce a local, professional and affordable pantomime for all to enjoy. What is there not to love about a traditional panto?!” Expect lots of laugh out loud comedy and audience participation, guaranteed to make your panto experience unforgettable! Tickets from £14.50. 0333 6663366

Please also check What’s On on pages 22-26. Information correct at time of going to print; please check with venue.

Elf on the Shelf


longside the more traditional advent calendar, more and more families are using the ‘elf on the shelf’ to kickstart their Christmas countdown. Based on the children’s book, the premise is that Santa knows who is naughty or nice thanks to the elves he sends into children’s homes. Families can adopt their own elf who returns to the North Pole each night to report back, returning before the kids wake up and appearing in a new place each morning. There’s plenty of scope for mischief and the only rule is you mustn’t touch the elf as that damages his magic. Great fun for younger children, it can be time consuming thinking up new ideas each day, so Families has compiled some ideas to help. Here are some of our favourites from surfing the internet and Pinterest: Snow angels Position your elf on the kitchen side/table making snow angels out of flour. Unravelling a roll of toilet roll Have your elf sitting on the stairs with the end of a roll of toilet paper and send the roll down the stairs. Tea party Set up a tea party with the elf and a selection of dolls or stuffed toys. Leading a toy procession from the toybox If you have a toybox or cupboard, leave it ajar and set up a little procession of toys with your elf leading the way. You could even position the elf trying to climb back in. Indulge his sweet tooth Leave your elf sitting amongst a small pile of wrappers with chocolate round his mouth. Fishing in the sink Set your elf up with a magnetic fishing set or make your own paper fish and attach paperclips. Give elf a cocktail stick with some string on the end and a magnet. Drinking from the milk bottle Position your elf in the fridge attached to a straw that has the other end in the milk bottle. Using a zip wire Fasten some string from the top of the Christmas tree to the floor/table and fix the elf so he looks like he’s travelling down it. Playing a game Set up a game with elf and a couple of other dolls sat around looking like they are playing. Toothpaste writing If you are up for something messy, have elf holding the tube with the lid off and a message written in bath/sink/on mirror.

Treasure hunt Maybe one for a weekend! Leave elf with a note saying he’s hidden a number of small treats around the house for the kids to find. Taking a shower Wrap elf in a small flannel to look like a towel and leave him in the shower. Snowball fight Use cotton wool balls and leave elf facing another toy. Reading a book Elf could be sitting on his own with an open book or with a group of toy friends. Watching a film Set up elf in front of the TV with some popcorn and the remote. Might be best to get up just before the kids to set this one up. Drawing on bananas Draw some faces/messages on the bananas in your fruit bowl and leave elf holding the pen. Trapped under a glass Leave elf under an upside down glass. Hostage on a train track Build a train track around your Christmas tree and lie elf on the track with tape or plasters round his hands and feet. Colouring in a colouring book/magazine Give elf a selection of pens and an open colouring book. Or have him doodling glasses/beards etc on faces in a magazine. Melted snowman Fill a tray with water and add some sticks for arms, a carrot nose and some buttons. Leave a note from elf saying he’s brought a snowman back from the North Pole. Playing hide and seek Leave a note to say he’s hiding and place him in-between soft toys/dolls, in the toybox or a cupboard.

Teaching a class If you have a chalkboard sit elf next to it with dolls sat around on the floor as if they’re in a classroom. Climbing up the Christmas tree Position elf halfway up the Christmas tree as if he’s climbing to the top. Sack race Position elf and some friends in small paper bags that stand up to look as if they are racing. The elfie selfie Take a photo of your elf on your mobile and leave the elf propped up against it. And, If you feel like taking a break for a few nights or are running out of ideas, you could always wrap some toilet paper round your elf’s leg to look like a plaster cast and leave a note to say he can’t move as he’s broken his leg!

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Families Thames Valley East • 19

This Year’s Must-Have Christmas Toy Guide Every year, desperate parents exhaust themselves searching high and low for the most wanted toys on their child’s Christmas list. To avoid last minute panic and possible disappointment, the key is to do your research and start shopping early. To help you get prepared, we’ve put together a guide to Families top ten favourite Christmas toys for 2018. By Claire Winter

Dino Fingerling (£16.99) Age: 6+ This year WowWee Toys' popular Fingerlings are all about dinosaurs (or mythical unicorns, if you fancy something a little less fierce). The dinos respond to motion and sound and are bound to be a massive hit. LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Set (£89.99) Age: 9-15 Lego and Harry Potter in the same box, what’s not to love? If you've got a wizard-mad child at home, this 878 piece set will allow them to recreate the magic of Hogwarts. This lovely set has lots of detail that will give Harry Potter fans hours of fun. Chow Crown Game (£24.99) Age: 5+ A silly game for the whole family. The hat plays music, and while the beats are going, the crown spins round, and the wearer has to eat as many of the food items attached to the forks as possible. A game that’s most fun when hunger looms, you are in charge of loading the food items on to the forks. You can choose tasty treats like marshmallows and strawberries or items that might not be so palatable! Great fun for parties and sleepovers too. Pie Face Cannon (£26.99) Age: 5+ Pie Face continues to make the Christmas list year after year, and 2018 looks to be no different. This year you can buy a Pie Face Cannon. The cannon fires a pie every time, and it’s up to the contestant to use the red hand to stop getting “pied”. A great game to play after Christmas dinner! Pies away!

The Poopsie Unicorn Surprise, £49.99 Age: 3+ Mums and dads across the country will be delighted to find this defecating unicorn on Christmas lists! The Poopsie Unicorn Surprise is a ‘cute’ toy that poops out glittery slime when you feed it special unicorn food. While I can hear parents visibly groaning, this is sure to be a hit with unicorn-lovers everywhere. Plus if you are worried about getting unicorn glitter poo all over your carpet on Christmas day, never fear, the toy comes with its own potty! Densters (£19.99) Age: 3+ All children love building a den! This great kit allows kids to set up their own hideaway in minutes. The set contains flexible toy monsters so you can create a magical den from everyday household items. It’s a great way to get your kids off a gadget! Ani-Mate Mini Movie Maker Kit (£14.99) Age: 8+ Create quirky little movies with your own phone and this ingenious Mini Movie Maker Kit. It includes modelling clay, modelling tools and googly eyes to make your own kooky characters, and backdrops so kids can create their own film. This is a great present or stocking filler for a budding animator or storyteller. VTech Kiddizoom Smart Watch (£44.99) Age: 4+ This cool watch features a camera for photo and video taking, 3D style digital and analogue clock faces and eight great games. It also has a motion sensor for a pedometer so they can measure their steps. The watch also has a calculator, calendar, alarm, stopwatch and voice recorder. Plus the option to download more apps and games! Gravitrax (£48.29) Age: 8+ A cool game that encourages kids to boost their STEM skills. Use your imagination to build superb tracks and set the Gravity Spheres rolling! The game combines physics, architecture, and engineering, to engage and improve young minds. You can also buy additional packs to extend the system. A great buy for kids that love building, marble runs and Lego. My Rebounder Mini Rebounding Trampoline, £89.99 Age 4+ Classic fun, these rebounders (small trampolines) will keep kids active all year round and can be used inside and out. They help improve strength, balance, co-ordination and general fitness. They can also be folded, so they won’t take up too much room.

20 • Maidenhead • Windsor • Marlow • Ascot • Slough • Egham

Book Club

catches up with John Bond following the release of his new children’s book Here at Families, we love snuggling up with a good book! It’s never too early to start nurturing a love of books and sharing a story with your child is the perfect excuse to cuddle up together on the sofa or at bedtime. Books can make ideal Christmas presents and one of our new favourites is Mini Rabbit Not Lost, the first in a new three-part picture book series by award-winning author/illustrator, John Bond. Rachel Bailey talks to John about what led him into the wonderful world of children’s books. How do you spend your working day?/how many hours a day do you spend illustrating?

audience to use their imagination and read other narratives into it too. I like that.

I’d love to say that most of my day is spent illustrating - but the reality of working for yourself means that there’s a whole load of ‘non-creative’ work to do too. Emails, meetings, admin, packing shop orders. No day is ever the same (which I like) but on average I probably get to spend half the day illustrating. When deadlines are looming though, I can end up drawing for 12 hours non-stop.

What's your favourite childhood book?

As an award winning illustrator and animator, why have you chosen children's books? Unintentionally, I had been creating a series of images (that involved Mini Rabbit) and was posting them on Instagram as a fun personal project. I was lucky for the work to be noticed by a few publishers, who subsequently contacted me and expressed an interest in Mini Rabbit as a picture book character. Children’s picture books are such a visually engaging, tangible format. As much as words can tell one story, I try to create images that ‘say’ something else. Allowing an

Any of Richard Scarry’s picture books are amazing! I particularly remember the ‘Best Storybook Ever’ - which had a pipe-smoking Lion driving a truck on the cover. What gave you the idea to write a 3 part picture book series? Mini Rabbit is an intrepid explorer. I just felt his story and adventures were too much to fit in 1 book. Plus 3 is one of my favourite numbers.

Where's your favourite place to work? I don’t think I have a favourite. For example - I’m answering this question sat in my cosy front room with a coffee, in silence. But tomorrow I’ll enjoy painting/drawing in my studio whilst listening to music and chatting with studio mates. A variation in surroundings is healthy, I think. What's your favourite way to spend time with your family? Being outside and living by the seaside. Riding bikes, walking around gardens and exploring woodlands.

I can definitely recognise my children in Mini Rabbit! Are your children a constant source of inspiration? Without a doubt! Mini Rabbit is a total mix of me as a child and my own kids. They constantly remind me of the unfiltered, innocent, imaginative minds that children have. Do you have a favourite phrase/word/amusing habit that either of your children use and you hope they never grow out of? It might seem a bit odd, but part of me doesn’t look forward to them calling me ‘Dad’ instead of ‘Daddy’. Maybe that’s a slight fear of growing up/getting old.

We love your Instagram doodles! Are you a procrastinator? Thank you. Ha! Is it that obvious from my feed? I definitely do like to procrastinate, but have accepted the fact that it’s a part of my creative process and that I shouldn’t feel too guilty about it. These ‘breaks’ are important for me to breathe, think about projects and come up with new ideas.

Mini Rabbit Not Lost is available to buy now as a hardback, eBook and audiobook Instagram: @iamjohnbond

If you’re after some further inspiration for books to capture your child’s imagination, BookTrust has published its 2018 Great Books Guide which, for the first time ever, features 100 book recommendations for children aged 0-12. You can download a copy from

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Families Thames Valley East • 21

What’s On Compiled by Siobhan Newman

The Nutcracker whirls into the Theatre Royal Windsor, November 5 to 10


Saturdays in November STORYTIME AT MARLOW BOOKSHOP 22-26 Spittal St, Marlow SL7 1DB Enjoy a story at the town’s independent book store. 10-10.30am, ideal for babies and pre-schoolers. Sundays in November VISIT ETON NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM Eton College, South Meadow Lane, Eton SL4 6DW Housing the Thackeray Collection of British Birds and other collections with more than 15,000 specimens, donated from the nineteenth century onwards. The museum is open every Sunday afternoon from 2.30 to 5pm. Mondays in November SALSA DANCING Tithe Barn, Hurley, SL6 5LX 07518 727363 Fun and friendly salsa dancing classes in a beautiful setting with a relaxed atmosphere and fantastic teachers. 8.15pm to 9pm. Mondays and Thursdays in November WOODLAND CAPERS Under the Canopy Forest School, Dukes Valley, Windsor Road, Gerrards Cross SL9 8SR 07971 406 671 Forest fun in a stay and

Dinosaur Show at the Look Out Discovery Centre, from November 10

play session (for rising 2s-4 year olds). Come and join some outdoor adventures and crafts finished with a snack around the campfire. Six week block booking, three session flexi-pass and single session passes available. Ongoing SCIENCE EXHIBITION The Look Out Discovery Centre Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 7QW 01344 354400 More than 90 activities which children of all ages can enjoy and learn from: launch a hydrogen rocket, play with boats in the indoor stream or build a house with your friends. Science shows run at weekends and Bracknell school holidays, subject to minimum numbers. £1.95 per person in addition to the main entrance price to the hands-on science and nature exhibition. Until Sunday January 6 2019 A ROYAL WEDDING: THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF SUSSEX Windsor Castle, Windsor, SL4 1NJ 020 7766 7304 The wedding outfits of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be on display at Windsor Castle in a special exhibition. Usual castle entry cost applies (free to Advantage Card holders).

22 • Maidenhead • Windsor • Marlow • Ascot • Slough • Egham

Photo: Nicholas Dawkes

There’s plenty for children at Windsor Contemporary Arts Fair, November 10-11

Saturday November 3 FIREWORKS FAMILY RACEDAY Ascot Racecourse, High Street, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 7JX 0844 346 3000 Racing is followed by one of the region's largest Fireworks spectaculars. Rides free of charge until 4pm and then cost £1 (in aid of local charities). First race 12.40pm, fireworks begin at 6pm. Saturday November 3 GRAND FIREWORKS DISPLAY AND BONFIRE Grove Island, Odney Lane, SL6 9SR Popular display organised by Cookham Scouts. Gates open 5.30pm and the Bonfire Lighting is at 6pm, fireworks at around 7pm, hot dogs/refreshments, mulled wine for sale. £5 in advance from Countrystore, Village Hardware and Hillcrest Stores. £7 on the night. Saturday November 3 BIG BANG FIREWORKS Beaconsfield Cricket Club Wilton Park, Buckinghamshire HP9 2XD Bonfire and music fireworks launched by Gabby Logan. Hog roast and food stalls, fully licensed beer tent, mulled wine, sparkler lights and wand stall, St Johns Ambulance, children's rides. Under 5s free.

Saturday November 3 THE 50TH BEACONSFIELD ROUND TABLE FIREWORKS Beaconsfield Rugby Club Windsor End, Beaconsfield HP9 2SQ 01494 673783 Parking for 2,000 cars available at Hall Barn Estate. Free parking for all online ticket holders. £5 per car without a valid online ticket.

Gates open at 5pm, Fireworks display at 7.15pm Monday November 5 FIREWORKS NIGHT CELEBRATION Crowne Plaza Marlow, Fieldhouse Lane, Marlow, SL7 1GJ 01628 496800 Fireworks over the lake, live music and a selection of food and drink. Monday November 5 to Saturday 10 THE NUTCRACKER Theatre Royal Windsor Thames Street Windsor 01753 853888 Set to Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous score, Vienna Festival Ballet tells the story of Clara and her enchanted nutcracker doll meeting the Mouse King and Sugar Plum Fairy on a wonderful journey through the glistening Land of Snow to a kingdom made entirely of sweets. Nightly 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday 2.30pm. Tickets from £15. Tuesday November 6 to Saturday 10 HORRIBLE HISTORIES - TWO SHOWS Wycombe Swan Theatre St Mary’s Street, High Wycombe, HP11 2XE, 01494 514 444 See Terrible Tudors and Awful Egyptians, based on the books by Terry Deary. From the horrible Henries to the end of evil Elizabeth, hear the legend and the lies about the torturing Tudors. Find out the fate of Henry’s headless wives and his punch up with the Pope. Survive the Spanish Armada as it sails into the audience. And then there’s Cleopatra, coming atcha.

What’s On

Please email with any events. Event times and dates do change. Please try and check that an event is still going ahead, before you head out.

How to Hide a Lion at The Old Court, November 14

Saturday November 10 MAGIC IN THE SKY Stone Meadow, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks, HP8 4QA Gates open 5.45pm, bonfire lighting to music 6.15pm, musical fireworks display 7pm. Mulled wine, Bucks bangers and more. Ticket prices £8 adults, £4 children in advance, family tickets available. Saturday November 10 to Sunday 11 WINDSOR CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR Windsor Racecourse, Maidenhead Road, SL4 5JJ 01753 498400 Major exhibition and sale with artist-led workshops. Kids can learn drawing and printmaking techniques or join the Jelly artists creating an Arts Quest. Under 6s must be accompanied by an adult. £8/6 for adult/ child advance tickets.

Moomins are in The Fir Tree at Norden Farm November 20 to December 30

Saturday November 10 to Sunday January 6 DINOSAUR SHOW The Look Out Discovery Centre, Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, RG12 7QW 01344 354400 Give us your best dinosaur ROAR as you become part of the herd. Guide the dinosaurs through the challenges to help them survive. It's so REX-citing! Science shows run at weekends and school holidays, subject to minimum numbers. £1.95 per person in addition to the main entrance price to the hands-on science and nature exhibition. Monday, November 13 A CHRISTMAS CAROL Theatre Royal Windsor Thames Street Windsor 01753 853888 A spectacular adaptation of Charles

Be Amazed...The Look Out

Discovery Centre

Bring this voucher to get one free child with one full paying adult*. Valid until 31/12/18 *Terms and conditions apply. Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 7QW

Tel: 01344 354400


Science and discovery fun over 90 activities.

The snowy world of Lapland UK is open November 17 to December 24 (see page 16)

Dickens’s most well known story by Broadway heavy hitters Alan Menken (Disney’s Beauty And The Beast & The Little Mermaid) and Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime & Seussical), who breathe new life into the classic tale. With an infuriated “Bah! Humbug!” Scrooge summates his feelings of Christmas tidings and charitable giving, but he’s forced to face his selfish ways when three ghosts on Christmas Eve lead him through his Past, Present and Future. Nightly 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday 2.30pm. Tickets from £11. Tuesday and Wednesday, November 13 and 14 DINOSAUR TODDLER DAYS The Look Out Discovery Centre, Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, RG12 7QW 01344 354400 01344 354400 The science and nature centre’s activities include art and craft, play dough, face or hand painting and storytelling. On toddler days buy one drink and get another free to the same value. £6.80 per parent and toddler and an additional £1.55 for an extra toddler. Wednesday 14 November LADIES FASHION SHOW AND POP-UP SHOP Bisham Primary School, Church Lane, Bisham, Marlow SL7 1RW See the show and shop your favourite high street brands at 50% off or more. Doors open at 7pm. Show starts at 7.30pm. Tickets £5 inc drink. Purchase in advance from or 07830 885783 Wednesday November 14 HOW TO HIDE A LION The Old Court, Windsor SL4 3BL 01753 743579 When a lion is chased out of town, a little girl named Iris helps him to find somewhere to hide. Iris embarks on a mission to squash her new friend into tight spots, as the town folk try to track him down. Helen Stephen’s magical book, How to Hide a Lion, comes to life with playful humour, dazzling puppets and jazz. Music by Barb Jungr. 1.30pm and 4pm. Tickets: £13.50, £11.50 (under 10s), family and friends (4 people) £46, babes-in-arms free.

Email: • Tel: 01628 788058

Thursday November 15 ETON CHRISTMAS LIGHTS SWITCH-ON, Eton town centre. Community carol service at Eton College Chapel (6pm), followed by a parade through Eton High Street to the Jubilee Square where the lights for Eton will be switched on (7pm) Community stalls, live music, Santa's Grotto and special surprises. Date to be confirmed. Friday November 16 and Saturday 17 ARTISAN FAIR AND NIGHT MARKET Norden Farm, Altwood Rd, Maidenhead SL6 4PF 01628 788997 This year the artisan fair has a NEW night-time dimension. Browse the stalls in the 18th Century Long Barn, enjoy live music plus favourite festive snacks and beverages. Friday 5-8pm and Saturday 10am-3pm Friday 16th November SOUTHERN INDIAN STREET FOOD Beverley Glock Cookery School, Princes Risborough. Cooking class 10am-2.30pm, booking required, adults, £75. Saturday November 17 to Thursday January 6 WINDSOR ON ICE Alexandra Gardens, Barry Avenue, SL4 3HY Go skating in style near the river in the covered main rink with an extra smaller open air ice rink. Ice Bar and Grill available plus a viewing area, cafe, dodgems and Father Christmas. Sunday November 18 and other dates as below 'CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS' LANTERN MAKING WORKSHOPS Organised by Norden Farm Centre for the Arts. Weave willow and create lanterns inspired by the animal world at family workshops then join the parade in Maidenhead town centre on Sunday December 8 (see date for parade details). Suitable for all ages and all the family, £4 per person (including supervising adults). Norden Farm workshops: Sundays November 18 and 25, December 2 at 10.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 3.30pm. Maidenhead Town Centre workshops: Saturday November 17 and 24, December 1, 10am to 4pm (drop in) and December 8 last chance workshop 10.30am – 2pm.

Families Thames Valley East • 23

What’s On Compiled by Siobhan Newman

Skate into Windsor on Ice, November 17 to January 6

Sunday November 18 WOODLAND CAPERS FOR FAMILY Under the Canopy Forest School, Dukes Valley, Windsor Road, Gerrards Cross SL9 8SR 07971 406 671 Come along with your family for 2 hours of outdoor adventure. Build a den, light your own fire and toast some marshmallows! 2-4pm, £15 per person. Pre-book at Tuesday November 20 to Sunday December 30 THE FIR TREE Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Altwood Road, Maidenhead, SL6 2PF, 01628 788997 The Moomin family was

Plant a sapling at Maidenhead Thicket, November 24

hibernating in the drawing room. They had been sleeping for a few months already and were going to keep it up until spring. Now all at once a cold draught disturbed Moomintroll’s dreams. Someone was pulling at his quilt and shouting that he was tired and Christmas was coming. The show features live puppetry and music. It is a gloriously unselfish take on Christmas. Tickets are £13.50 (£11.50 under 16s), Friends and Family (4 people) £46. Suitable for all audiences aged 3 years and upwards.


01628 674092 •

24 • Maidenhead • Windsor • Marlow • Ascot • Slough • Egham

Traditional Christmas at Chiltern Open Air Museum, December 1 and 2

Thursday November 22 CHRISTMAS LIGHT SWITCH ON AND SHOP Marlow Town Centre. The Christmas lights will be switched on at 6.30pm by this year’s celebrity (Russell Brand did the honours last year) plus stalls, carols, mulled wine and more. Visit website for further details Thursday November 22 WESSEX CHRISTMAS SHOPPING EVENT Wessex Primary School, St Adrian’s Close, Maidenhead SL6 3AT. Plenty of stalls to browse to get the Christmas shopping done. 7-9pm Friday November 23 to Sunday January 6 DICK WHITTINGTON Theatre Royal Windsor Thames Street Windsor 01753 853888 Celebrate 80 years of traditional Panto at the beautiful Edwardian theatre. Get ready for even more laughs than ever before. Anne Hegerty, The Governess from The Chase joins old favourites…Basil Brush is back, Mike Read and of course Kevin Cruise, Windsor’s calamitous comic returns along with our resident dame Steven Blakeley. New family ticket available on selected shows. Saturday November 24 SPONSOR A SAPLING INITIATIVE Maidenhead Thicket, Cannon Lane, SL6 4QQ Maidenhead and Cookham Common rangers are looking for tree-lovers to sponsor a sapling at £15 per tree. They are also inviting anyone and everyone to come and help settle the saplings into their new home in a tree-planting day on Saturday 24 November, at the start of National Tree Week. Tree-lovers can donate online via Saturday November 24 MAIDENHEAD CHRISTMAS LIGHT SWITCH ON Maidenhead town centre. Throughout the day in Maidenhead there will be a Christmas Market with a fabulous selection of stalls and street food as well as children’s funfair rides. At 4.30pm entertainment begins on the stage at the Town Hall followed by the official countdown and lights switch on at 6pm. After the lights go on there’s a spectacular fireworks display from the roof of the Town Hall.

on/maidenhead-christmas-lightsswitch-on-p779761 Sunday November 25 ADS SANTA FUN RUN Dorney Lake, off Court Lane, Eton, Windsor, SL4 6QP 07513762900 Fun for all the Family raising money to support local people with dementia, their carers and families. 5k run (walk, wheel or jog) once round Dorney Lake. Dogs on leads and kids on scooters/pushchairs/wheelchairs welcome. 1pm. k/santa-fun-run-2018 Sunday November 25 ALEXANDER DEVINE’S SANTA DASH Bachelors Acre, Windsor, SL4 1ER 01628 822777 Kick start Christmas with Windsor's Santa dash taking in the Long Walk, the Castle and more. Grab family, friends, colleagues, even dogs for this 5K festive fun run. Includes a free Santa suit or children's reindeer antlers. All proceeds donated to Alexander Devine Children's Hospice Service. Start at 9am and finish with great offers on winter warmers in Windsor eateries. £20/ £7.50. Sunday November 25 WOKINGHAM WINTER CARNIVAL Berkshire, RG40 1AS A free fun-packed day held in the town centre streets. Visitors from across Berkshire travel to enjoy the Ferris wheel, funfair rides, more than 100 food, craft and charity stalls and non-stop free entertainment including Santa's Grotto, a magic show, comedy jugglers, clowns and entertainers. Santa's Grotto in the town library. Carnival procession from 4pm (to be confirmed). The fun starts at 11am. Monday November 26 GREAT FOSTERS Christmas Gift Fayre Great Fosters Hotel, Stroude Road, Egham TW20 9UR 01784 433822 AWBS International women's club hosts a fair packed with diverse gifts in the beautiful manor. 9.30-4pm £3 charity entrance fee. Contact Friday 30 November COOKING AHEAD FOR CHRISTMAS Beverley Glock Cookery School, Princes Risborough. Cooking class 10am-2.30pm, booking required, adults £85.

What’s On

Please email with any events. Event times and dates do change. Please try and check that an event is still going ahead, before you head out.

Christmas Spectacular fun at Odds Farm Park, December 1 to 24


Saturday December 1 WESSEX CHRISTMAS FAYRE Wessex Primary school, St Adrian’s Close, Maidenhead SL6 3AT. 11am-2pm Santa’s grotto, tombolas. face painting, games, cakes and more. Saturday December 1 Sunday 2 TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS Chiltern Open Air Museum, Gorelands Lane, Chalfont St Giles, HP8 4AB 01494 871117 Music, mirth and craft making. Find out about how Christmas was celebrated in the past. See a selection of the Museum’s buildings decorated for the season from the Victorian doll house to make-do-and-mend decorations in the 1940s Prefab. Father Christmas will greet visitors as he sits by the fire in Haddenham Cottage. Children (and adults) are invited to take part in Christmas crafts and activities. Folk musicians will perform a mixture of festive, traditional and modern folk music. Saturday December 1 to Monday 24 CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR Odds Farm Park, Wooburn Common, HP10 0LX 01628 520 188. Meet the Elves and Father Christmas, head into the Elves’ Workshop to create your extraordinary take home gift and onto the Toy Shop to choose your Christmas Spectacular present. Plus Christmas lambs to meet and playbarn attractions. Saturday December 1 to Wednesday January 2 FESTIVE TRAIL Burnham Beeches Hawthorn Lane, Lord Mayors Drive, Burnham SL2 3TE. Get yourself in the festive mood by collecting a leaflet and following the seasonal trail. Fun for all ages! Suggested donation £2. Bring a pencil. From Saturday December 1 CHRISTMAS CARRIAGE RIDES IN WINDSOR GREAT PARK Savill Garden, Wick Lane, Englefield Green, Surrey TW20 0UJ 10.30am to 3pm (weather permitting) The horse and carriage are beautifully decorated with twinkling gold & white berries for the festive season and carriage-riders will be pulled by a magnificent part-shire horse (who will of course be wearing antlers!). There are Christmas toys on board for the little ones, and you may even hear some festive music! A 30-minute ride costs £50 per carriage. Booking essential. From Saturday December 1 FREE GARDEN ENTRY Savill Garden landscaped gardens as above. Entry will be free in December, January and February

Don’t miss the reindeer parade in Windsor, early December

Snow White is at the Wycombe Swan, December 7 to 30

Saturday December 1 REINDEER PARADE Windsor Yards, Goswell Hill, Windsor, SL4 1RH, 01753 797070 Live reindeer pull Father Christmas on a sleigh parading through the town centre with a marching band and costumed characters. Jingle all the way from the castle at 2pm through St Albans Street, then into Park Street, High Street, into Peascod Street then into Windsor Yards. The parade ends near the toy department steps of Daniel department store where you can have your photo taken with Father Christmas on his sleigh. PLEASE NOTE, parade is usually first Saturday of December but date and route to be confirmed.

December weekends and Thursday 20 to Sunday 23 MOTHER CHRISTMAS FESTIVE TRAIL Cliveden National Trust, Cliveden Road, Taplow, SL6 0JA 01628 605069 Children will help Mother Christmas prepare for the Yuletide season with this fun festive trail. Little ones can find challenges around the estate to help prepare Father Christmas for the big day. Help send him off on time by solving puzzles through the grounds. 10am-2.30pm £5 Sunday December 2 WHITE WALTHAM CHRISTMAS FAYRE, White Waltham Primary School, Waltham Road, SL6 3SG. Lots of Christmas fun from 1pm.

Whatever place you’re into

“learn to swim for life!” Pre-school lessons available now 3-4 year olds Encourage a love of swimming! NO joining fee with this advert Court Garden Leisure Complex 01628 405200 Visit website for full terms and conditions.

Operated by Places for People Leisure Ltd in partnership with Wycombe District Council

Email: • Tel: 01628 788058

Families Thames Valley East • 25


What’s On Compiled by Siobhan Newman


Maidenhead Lantern Parade is on December 8

Solve puzzles on the Mother Christmas trail at Cliveden in December

Visit Eton College’s Natural History Musuem, Sundays

Sunday December 2 SANTA’S FUN RUN Higginson Park, Marlow, SL7 2AE 01494 421 821 Marlow's 12th Santa Fun Run. Join more than 2,000 red runners. Adult entrants get a Santa suit. Children from aged five and over can join in too and will get a T-shirt plus there’s a young people’s category. From 9.30am. Entry costs £16 (adults) £12 (young people) and £8 (children). In aid of local charities. Sunday December 2 CHRISTMAS ON THE GREEN The Green, Datchet SL3 9JW 01753 580467 The lighting of the village Christmas tree with community carols, food, drink and entertainment. Thursday December 6 and Monday 10 FESTIVO IN ST GEORGE'S CHAPEL Windsor Castle, Windsor, SL4 1NJ Tickets from the Royal Windsor Information Centre box office 01753 743597 The Choir of St George’s Chapel will be joined by musicians from The Band of the Household Cavalry in a concert of sacred and secular seasonal music. Early booking advised. 7.30pm. Thursday December 6 LIGHT UP THE VILLAGE AND BURNHAM LIONS CHRISTMAS PARADE Burnham Park Hall, Windsor Lane SL1 7HR. Christmas light switch on and children’s parade in Burnham high street 5pm. Warm up with a free mince pie and mulled wine watching Pop Goes the Choir perform afterwards at 8pm. Friday December 7 to Sunday 30 SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS Wycombe Swan Theatre St Mary’s Street, High Wycombe, HP11 2XE, 01494 514 444 The fairest pantomime of them all… It will be Strictly (Come Dancing ) fun as Brendan Cole makes his pantomime debut in this year’s must-see pantomime spectacular Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Also starring Britain’s Got Talent finalist Mandy Muden as the Magical Mirror and pantomime favourite Jason Sutton as Nurse Nancy. The Swan promises comedy, sensational song and dance numbers, fabulous costumes and stunning scenery. Saturday December 8 THE CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS - MAIDENHEAD'S COMMUNITY LANTERN PARADE Maidenhead Town Centre (organised by Norden Farm Centre of the Arts 01628 788997 for details of lantern-making workshops before the parade). Live music and entertainment from 4.30pm, at 5pm the parade departs from Maidenhead Town Hall, 5.45pm – 6.15pm - live music and entertainment continues. Times and music acts to be confirmed. The Lantern Parade is free to attend and suitable for all ages. Saturday December 8 WINDSOR’S CRACKING CHRISTMAS MARKET Hanover Way Rec, Windsor. Stalls, inflatables, bespoke handmade crafts and more. 11am-3pm

Saturday December 8 CHRISTMAS CREATIONS River and Rowing Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley. A chance to make special decorations to bring sparkle to the festive season. You will use stained glass effects, embossing foil, paper modelling and lots more! 2pm to 4pm, ideal for ages four to eleven £8.50 per child. Saturday December 8 BURNHAM PARK GIFT AND CRAFT MARKET Burnham Park Hall, Windsor Lane SL1 7HR. Browse the wide range of stalls and visit Santa in his grotto. 11am -3pm £3.50 for Santa’s grotto includes gift. Saturday December 8 to Sunday January 6 KING HENRY’S CHRISTMAS TRAIL Runnymede National Trust, North Lodge, Windsor Road, Old Windsor SL4 2JL Bring the family to Runnymede for a festive walk and discover how King Henry VIII would have celebrated Christmas in Tudor Times. 10-30am to 3.30pm. 50p per trail. Sunday December 9 CHRISTMAS FAMILIES UNDER THE CANOPY Under the Canopy Forest School, Dukes Valley, Windsor Road, Gerrards Cross SL9 8SR 07971 406 671 Make a Christmas star, roast chestnuts over an open fire, find Father Christmas’s Den and all things Christmassy! Come along with your family for 2 hours of outdoor adventure. Build a den, light your own fire and toast some marshmallows. £15 per person, pre-book at Monday and Tuesday, December 10 and 11 SPACE - TODDLER DAYS The Look Out Discovery Centre, Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, RG12 7QW 01344 354400 Art and craft, play dough, face or hand painting and storytelling. £6.80 per parent and toddler. Wednesday, December 12 to Sunday 15 SLEEPING BEAUTY Desborough Theatre, Park Street, Maidenhead, SL6 1RF box office 07375 111174 Maidenhead Drama Guild presents the panto of your dreams 7.30pm weekdays, noon and 4pm weekend. Tickets: £11 adults, £9 children, four for just £40! Friday December 14 CAROLS ON THE HILL Windsor, SL4 1RH, 01753 797070 An evening of carols in front of Windsor Castle (near the Queen Victoria Statue). Featuring the Band of the Household Cavalry. 6-7pm. This annual event will be led by Churches Together in Windsor with proceeds going to DASH and Family Friends. Date to be confirmed. Friday December 14 EDIBLE CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR ADULTS Beverley Glock Cookery School, Princes Risborough. 10am-2.30pm booking required, £85.

Saturday 15 December EDIBLE CHRISTMAS GIFTS AGES 6+ Beverley Glock Cookery School, as above. 9.30am-1pm, booking required, £50. Saturday December 15 JOY TO THE WORLD – A CHRISTMAS CONCERT St Mary’s Church, 14 High Street, Maidenhead SL6 1YY. Maidenhead Choir and Marlow Gospel Choir usher you into the Christmas season with a fantasic choral programme of gospel and traditional style carols. 3-5pm Saturday December 15 to Monday 24 BEAUTY AND THE BEAST The Curve, William Street, Slough, book on 0333 666 3366 The battle is on for strong minded Beauty and loveable Dame Nellie. High energy, traditional panto packed with belly laughing jokes, well-known hit pop songs, slapstick comedy and plenty of audience participation! Starring a professional adult company. Sunday December 16 CAROLS AT THE CAFE Burnham Beeches Hawthorn Lane, Lord Mayors Drive, Burnham SL2 3TE 12.30pm to 3pm. Carols at 1pm and 2pm and craft activities for the children. Thursday 20 December EDIBLE CHRISTMAS GIFTS Basecamp, Berkhamsted. 9.30-4.30pm, ages 7-14, booking required, £70. Friday 21 December & Saturday 22 GINGERBREAD HOUSE Beverley Glock Cookery School, Princes Risborough. 10am-12 noon Princes Risborough, ages 6-14, booking required, £95. Saturday December 22 CHRISTMAS RACING AT ASCOT Ascot Racecourse, High Street, SL5 7JX 0870 727 1234 Join in some festive fun by taking a ride at the fairground, experience Christmas tales live from the cosy confines of the bandstand and even meet Santa’s reindeer. Story-telling from Mrs Christmas, pony rides, huskies, a carol singing concert, festive cocktails, fine dining and free fairground rides. Children can attend and eat for free too at this family day. Saturday December 22 to Sunday 30 CINDERELLA The Pearce Suite Theatre, Magnet Leisure Centre, Holmanleaze, Maidenhead SL6 8AW 0333 666 3366 The classic rags to riches tale will be performed this December, featuring West End performers, popular songs and plenty of silliness. Expect lots of laugh out loud comedy, traditional audience participation and animated scenery guaranteed to make your panto experience unforgettable! Tuesday January 1 NEW YEAR WHEELBARROW RACE Sunninghill village centre, High Street, SL5 7AA, Fancy dress wheelbarrow race in Upper Village Road raising money for the Ascot Day Centre. The fun runs 11am to 2pm. Hosted by Sunninghill Wheelbarrow Race

26 • Maidenhead • Windsor • Marlow • Ascot • Slough • Egham

Competitions and Offers with WIN A personalised engraved

WIN A Family ticket to see

Christmas Eve Platter!

The Fir Tree at Norden Farm this Christmas!

If one of your Christmas Eve traditions involves leaving a mince pie and a drink out for Father Christmas and a well-earned carrot for Rudolph, Hugo’s Workshop’s solid oak serving boards are the ideal way to display your treats! With illustrated places to leave your offerings and personalised with your child/children’s names, these are definitely on our wish list! (Size - 30cm x 20cm x 2cm) For your chance to win, all you have to do is answer the question below and email your answer to

What’s the name of the company who makes the boards?

Running from Tuesday 20 November to Sunday 30 December, Norden Farm’s Christmas show this year is The Fir Tree by Tove Jansson, from tales in Moominvalley. Suitable for 3+ years, tickets are priced from £11.50. Featuring live puppetry and music, the show is an adventure set in the idyllic and peaceful Moominvalley. It is a gloriously unselfish take on Christmas. Visit for details. For your chance to win, all you have to do is answer the question below and email your answer to Who wrote The Fir Tree? A Tove Jansson

A Santa’s Workshop

B Elves’ Toyshop

C Hugo’s Workshop

Closing date for competition entries is 1 December

B Toby Jansson C Tove Hanson Closing date for competition entries is Nov 16

*T&Cs apply *T&Cs apply

*Competition Terms and Conditions: 1. Only one entrant from same e-mail address or household will be accepted 2. Under 16s must obtain parental consent before entering 3. Entries must be received by the closing date and proof of sending cannot be taken as proof of receipt 4. All decisions of Families magazine are final and no correspondence will be entered into 5. No prize is exchangeable for cash or any other prize 6. Only the winners’ details will be supplied to the Promoter of the competition 7. Families Magazine is not liable for any delay or failure by the Promoter to deliver any prize or for the quality of the prize or for any loss or damage arising in connection with the competition 8. By entering the competition, entrants will be deemed to have accepted and agreed to these terms and conditions 9. Winning entries will be randomly drawn from all correct entries and contacted via the email address provided by the entrant. If the Promoter does not obtain a response from the winner within 21 days, we reserve the right to select another winner at random 10. Automated/bulk entries and entries from third parties will be disqualified 11. This competition is restricted to UK residents only.

WIN A Royal Windsor Monopoly Game! New for this Christmas, you can now Pass GO and collect two hundred MONOPOLY dollars as you whizz around the MONOPOLY: Royal Windsor Edition. A celebration of Royal Windsor’s loves and landmarks, visit Windsor Castle, Peascod Street, St. George’s Chapel and many more. This unique edition of the world’s most famous family board game, makes the perfect family gift and Families have one of the very first games to giveaway! For your chance to win, all you have to do is answer the question below and email your answer to Which leading Royal Windsor landmark appears on the brand new MONOPOLY? A Windsor Citadel B Windsor Castle C Windsor Coliseum Closing date for competition entries is 1 Dec The game is available now at Daniel Department Store, Ryman, Waitrose, Waterstones, The Works, WH Smith and online, including Amazon. *T&Cs apply

Email: • Tel: 01628 788058

Families Thames Valley East • 27


Parenting Dramas – Managing Mornings Rachel Bailey explores some of the challenges she faces as a mum of three. I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting that as a mum my biggest battles are fought at the beginning and the end of the day. I have yet to meet a parent with multiples who relishes the thought of facing the school run and now the onset of winter means adding coats, hats and scarves into the mix, it often takes all my energy (and the promise of A LOT of coffee) to coax me out from under the duvet.

Her twin brother can also be very specific about what he wears. Often (as I’ve already alluded to), he will refuse to wear anything that isn’t blue. This is at least easily sorted provided I’ve done the washing, unlike the morning he demanded he wear his ‘homework t-shirt’. Driven to the edge with frustration having been completely unable to work out which t-shirt he meant, I finally managed to ascertain he was talking about his Minecraft shirt. Homework is something his older brother does, as is playing Minecraft, therefore homework t-shirt = Minecraft t-shirt. There is a logic to it, it just takes time to work it out! Roll on next year when they’ll be wearing school uniforms.


think by far the worst delay tactic in our house, is the sock dramas. On any given day at least one of the twins can be relied upon to throw themselves on the floor sobbing in distress that their sock has ‘gone all wrong’. Usually this refers to the toes or the heel not being in exactly the right place and it’s the same whether they’ve dressed themselves or I’ve done it. Try as I might, even with a few years of practice, I still can’t seem to get this one right. On the off chance we do manage a morning without this ritual, there’s always something else to take its place. Most recently my quiet celebration at not having to reposition socks

thought. Obviously I had neglected to remember, despite somehow having volunteered to be the admin in the nursery Facebook group and therefore responsible for keeping other mums informed of such things. When I dropped her off she was wearing a short-sleeved dress, clashing cardigan and her brother’s knee length shorts with no less than 10 brightly coloured hair clips adorning her hair. However, when I returned to pick her up, she proudly waved the order form with her sample photo on and there she was with her hair nicely done and sporting the standard nursery jumper. When I asked what had happened, she smiled sweetly and replied that her teacher had asked her to wear the jumper! I think I’ve said it before, but those teachers are heroes.

on a frustrated, squirming 3 year old, was cut short by the realisation that despite being fully dressed when I sent them downstairs, by

the time we were ready to leave, one of the boys was wearing only one sock!. His twin sister was dutifully despatched to choose a new pair, (blue to minimise tantrums), but these were then firmly rejected as they were stripes (albeit blue ones). Negotiating outfits, is a carefully executed time waster. I have given up trying to explain to my 3 year old daughter why wearing jeans under a skirt is not the same as leggings, or that she doesn’t need a woolly hat in the height of summer (now it’s cold she has no interest in the hat obviously). She has her own style. This backfired somewhat on photo day at nursery. Or so I

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Then there’s the constant nagging for them to put on their shoes or do their teeth. Why does it come as a total surprise that this is necessary every single morning? I’m sure I sometimes shout ‘put your shoes on!’ in my sleep. Getting the timing right in the mornings is an art. Get them up too early on a day when they’ve decided to cooperate and you find yourself with spare time. In theory spare time should make mornings more relaxing, but in our house, spare time is to be avoided at all costs. If there’s spare time, there’s time to play, which inevitably leads to us being late. Thank goodness we don’t have to do breakfast at home too!


Building Works and Kids By Anna Collins

Hands up anyone that’s tried to have building works done on their home while bringing up children? We are just at the end of a project as I write, so thought I’d share a few moments some of you may appreciate if you’ve also got this particular t-shirt!


ust to start, I know we are fortunate enough to be able to extend our house and I feel very lucky that my two boys now see our new ‘open-plan’ downstairs as a mini football field in which to run around freely; I just need to remember this when I get upset with them when they decide to ram a truck into the newly painted skirting board. My children are 7 and 4. Building works with children any younger than this must be tough and the older they are; the less damage to the new décor maybe? Prior to the build, I have to admit there were a few scary moments when my husband and I nearly called the whole thing off. At one point we wondered if moving and buying a house somewhere entirely different would be a good idea. I wasn’t brave enough to take on the idea of a new area and new schools, I have to admit. There are also the scary moments where the costs for the build seem to creep higher and higher. It can be a roller-coaster. Before we started, I went to buy an emergency ‘interim’ £15 fridge from a lady in Holyport (thanks to social media selling sites). She, herself, had spent nine months living upstairs, while the builders were in. Not only that, this was April time and she had been through the entire winter. She looked fed up. I can imagine times in that freezing weather would have been tough. I am so glad we didn’t start till May and the good weather started to kick in. Escaping to the park to play was a life-saver!

We had two weeks prior to the summer holidays where our whole downstairs was a dusty pit, so we lived upstairs on the landing with a microwave and the interim fridge! Getting the boys to school was interesting. The first challenge was to get them something to eat, the second was to get them to eat it sitting on the stairs, the third was to get them out of the house before the builders turned up and the fourth was to get them out before they got their shoes and shorts covered in plaster! My kids also love to chat to people who turn up to the house. They had a lot of questions for the man with the exciting digger! Great that they were interested, but usually they wanted to engage in conversation as we were rushing to go somewhere.

the walls had to be finished. We weren’t close to achieving this, so in came the in-laws to help us paint. Lots of fun with limited kitchen, no beds and the full set of crockery in boxes! Thanks to them, the floor is in and we’re close to finishing now and of course it’s worth it. Not sure I’ll be doing that again anytime soon though. So glad to have a house back and somewhere the children can play!

I have to admit I was grateful that school finished for the summer just two weeks later. Bring on the great escape to Grannie’s house! My poor mum. There were definitely a couple of days where looking after us all for six weeks must have been a stretch, but we were out of the plaster pit! Phew! We were a bit nomadic in this stage with our limited luggage and we visited friends to break the time up. Thank goodness we were well clear of the pram and travel cot stage. So, September came around and we came back to the plaster pit! To save money we opted to paint the house ourselves…with kids. Nuts. Downstairs still wasn’t functioning as you can’t do the flooring until the painting is done. We also gave ourselves a flooring deadline, so

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Families Thames Valley East • 29

She Means Business

Working from Home: The Pros and Cons So you want to work from home? For many parents the chance to work from home on a regular basis is the Holy Grail. Not only does it cut down on endless hours spent commuting and travel bills, but it means you are around for your family in case of an emergency.


et working from home isn’t for everyone. If you’re in a sector where working from home is possible or you are considering freelancing or running your own business from home, you need to be honest with yourself about whether the pros outweigh the potential cons. Ask yourself some questions. Do you work best as part of a team, bouncing ideas off each other? It is possible to exchange ideas with people via Instant Messenger and technology is enabling people who work remotely to have virtual colleagues in their home office, but if face to face contact is important to you, then you might find working from home a struggle. You may be able to mitigate this, of course, through creating or joining a local business network or ensuring you get out regularly to meetings or other events - or even just to walk the dog!

The advantages of working from home are significant. In addition to those mentioned above, the wellbeing of most parents would be enhanced by not having to deal with rush hour traffic or train delays and the anxiety of not getting to school or nursery pick up on time. One of the worst nightmares for many parents are the days when their child wakes up sick and they have to frantically ring round friends and family to get cover while they go to an important meeting. Not having to deal with this can hugely lower stress levels. Once you have decided if homeworking is for you, you need to consider what you need to work successfully from home. Try to have a separate work space It is good, if possible, to draw a line between home and work so you can close the door on work both mentally and physically at the end of the day. Having a separate space

- a room, an outdoor building etc creates the sense of ‘going to work’. It also means that your work papers are kept separate and away from small hands! Alternatively, if you don't have a separate space, you can still create the feeling of going to work by walking round the block before you start work. You may, of course, need to go out to drop off children in any event before you start your working day. Make sure you have the technology you need The basics are likely to be a computer, good phone, Wifi connectivity and a printer. Bear in mind that you are likely to have very little technical support so it is vital to have a back-up if the computer stops working and a solution if the internet goes down, for instance, a local library or nearby cafe with Wifi. Create a routine Some people like to do the difficult calls or tasks early in the day to get them out of the way and to kick start the day. Take regular breaks, do some exercise and get out and see people. Let people know your working hours and let neighbours and family know you are working and not lounging about at home. Get good childcare Employers may stipulate childcare if you are working from home. In any event, it is very stressful trying to work from home with small children, particularly if they don't have regular sleep patterns. If you

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are working from home while other colleagues are in the office, ensure that you are visible by attending selected social events and meetings and keeping up with people in the office as much as possible. Investigate co-working space If you are not sure about homeworking, but need to work closer to home, you could consider using a co-working space or creating your own local hub with other homeworkers in your area. Alternatively, you could consider homeworking for part of the week to get the best of both worlds. As with everything, it’s advisable to know yourself and approach different ways of working with your eyes as open as possible. Sometimes though, it takes a bit of experimentation to know what works best for you. Compromises may be involved. Ultimately, it is only you who can judge what is best for your family’s circumstances - and, of course, as with all things parenting, those circumstances may change with time...!

Mandy Garner is Editor of advertises homeworking opportunities and offers tons of advice on how to set up your own business and different ways of working, including case studies in a variety of sectors.

She Means Business


Love it or hate it, the majority of parents find themselves visiting a soft play centre at some point. Inspired by the idea to make it an enjoyable experience for the whole family, mums Jenny and Tamar set up The Jelly Lounge in central Windsor. Offering healthy food, good coffee, a range of activities for kids and perhaps most importantly, gin! they talk to Families about how it’s much more than just soft play. Who are you and where do you live? We are two local Mums and friends (Jenny and Tamar), who have been raising our young children in Windsor for the past few years. Tell us a bit about the business? The Jelly Lounge is a premium family club in the heart of Windsor, which is both kid and adult friendly. Our popular chef led restaurant serves local produce and the food is lovingly handmade and freshly prepared daily. It has a truly family friendly vibe so when the kids get bored they can hit the play area. The club hosts a whole range of activities including soft play, workshops and holiday clubs for all ages (cookery, yoga, art and dance) and a mini crèche. We also offer fantastic parties in our industrial style party rooms to suit all budgets and sizes. You can pay per visit or become a member. Check out to discover more. As Muddy Stilettos put it...

“If Sex and the City did soft play, The Jelly Lounge would be it. It’s a cool kids play centre with great food, damn good coffee and gin.”

We created The Jelly Lounge as we believe that families should be better looked after and we wanted to create a place which is fun, full of creativity, with a decent drinks and food offering. We have a love of children and of bringing people together so it was a no brainer for us to fill this gap in the market. What did you use to do? Did you change career to do this? Jenny: I worked in Brand Marketing for a Global Drinks Giant which was a whole lot of fun. Then I worked in my family business, which was a group of Dental Implant Clinics which was great broad business experience. However, once sold, I decided to invest the funds into something a little more fun! Tamar: I worked at British Airways for many years which allowed my customer service excellence to be developed. Latterly, (along with my husband), I invented an innovative new toddler airplane carry-on bag called BAGRIDER, which is being sold around the world!

What inspired you to set up the business?

What would your advice be to other business women?

We saw a definite gap in the market to cater for families looking for a better quality family experience. There is a massive gap between the private family member’s clubs at the top end and the soft play market at the mainstream level, with The Jelly Lounge firmly sitting in the middle. This is why we always bang on about being more than just a soft play, we are a family club meeting the needs of both adults and children!

Try and find something you love doing with a new business venture. At times in setting up the new business, we have been working 80 hour weeks but we have still enjoyed it despite the hard work. Seeing our little customers (and parents) delighted with what we do we find really energising, spending time with our own kids at the club and seeing them enjoy it also makes it all very fulfilling!

What are your plans for the future?

For more information and to find out what activities and clubs are on offer, visit or follow them on Facebook @thejellylounge

We launched the first test site in Windsor and we are still taking many learnings and finessing the concept from launch nearly 12 months ago. It is still too early to say at this stage, however we do have ambitions to roll out the concept to other towns around the U.K.

Please tell advertisers you found them in Families magazine

Our skill sets are very different but definitely complimentary in the creation and launch of The Jelly Lounge Family Club.


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Families Thames Valley East • 31

Families Thames Valley East is part of Families Print Ltd, a franchise company. All franchised magazines in the group are independently owned and operated under licence. Families is a registered trademark of LCMB Ltd, Remenham House, Regatta Place, Marlow Road, Bourne End, Bucks SL8 5TD. The contents of Families Thames Valley East are fully protected by copyright and none of the editorial or photographic matter may be reproduced in any form without prior consent of Families Thames Valley East. Every care is taken in the preparation of this magazine, but the franchise company, Families Print Ltd and Lifecycle Marketing cannot be held responsible for the claims of advertisers nor for the accuracy of the contents, or any consequence thereof.

Families Thames Valley East Magazine Nov/Dec 2018 Issue 99